Heb. sar (1 Samuel 22:2; 2Sam 23:19). Rendered "chief," Genesis 40:2; 41:9; rendered also "prince," Daniel 1:7; "ruler," Judges 9:30; "governor,' 1 Kings 22:26. This same Hebrew word denotes a military captain (Exodus 18:21; 2Kings 1:9; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 18:13, etc.), the "captain of the body-guard" (Genesis 37:36; 39:1; 41:10; Jeremiah 40:1), or, as the word may be rendered, "chief of the executioners" (marg.). The officers of the king's body-guard frequently acted as executioners. Nebuzar-adan (Jeremiah 39:13) and Arioch (Daniel 2:14) held this office in Babylon.
The "captain of the guard" mentioned in Acts 28:16 was the Praetorian prefect, the commander of the Praetorian troops.
Another word (Heb. katsin) so translated denotes sometimes a military (Joshua 10:24; Judges 11:6,11; Isaiah 22:3 "rulers;" Daniel 11:18) and sometimes a civil command, a judge, magistrate, Arab.
, (Isaiah 1:10; 3:6; Micah 3:1,9).
It is also the rendering of a Hebrew word (shalish) meaning "a third man," or "one of three." The LXX. render in plural by
; I.e., "soldiers fighting from chariots," so called because each war-chariot contained three men, one of whom acted as charioteer while the other two fought (Exodus 14:7; 15:4; 1 Kings 9:22; Compare 2 Kings 9:25). This word is used also to denote the king's body-guard (2 Kings 10:25; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2Chr 11:11) or aides-de-camp.
The "captain of the temple" mentioned in Acts 4:1 and 5:24 was not a military officer, but superintendent of the guard of priests and Levites who kept watch in the temple by night. (Compare "the ruler of the house of God," 1 Chronicles 9:11; 2Chr. 31:13; Nehemiah 11:11.)
The Captain of our salvation is a name given to our Lord (Hebrews 2:10), because he is the author and source of our salvation, the head of his people, whom he is conducting to glory. The "captain of the Lord's host" (Joshua 5:14,15) is the name given to that mysterious person who manifested himself to Abraham (Genesis 12:7), and to Moses in the bush (Exodus 3:2,6, etc.) the Angel of the covenant. (See ANGEL .)
These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for 'Captain'". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".